The efforts of Colchester Borough Council to support the local economy before and during the Covid-19 pandemic and to encourage future inward investment into the borough has put it in line for a prestigious national award.
The council is one of ten local authorities to be shortlisted in the Economic Support category of the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) Awards 2021. A record number of entries were submitted for consideration across the categories for the annual awards with the organisers saying 'to be shortlisted is an outstanding achievement'.
The council’s submission highlighted the work it has undertaken to support local businesses recover and survive. It also outlined the steps it has taken with a range of partners to help them support their networks through the difficulties faced as a result of Covid-19 and the national lockdowns and to help stimulate a stronger, greener, inclusive and resilient economy for the future.
These included the enormous efforts undertaken by council staff to ensure the swift payments of Government funded grants to businesses throughout the pandemic, as well as the work and campaigns to ensure people felt safe about returning to Colchester’s shops and businesses as the restrictions were lifted.
The council has also worked very closely with a range of organisations including the Our Colchester Business Improvement District and Colchester Business Enterprise Agency (Colbea) – to which it provided additional funding to enable them to provide even more support to businesses across the borough.
It has also worked in partnership with the University of Essex to secure funding from the Economic and Social Research Council for a research project to find out how people felt about urban spaces and whether Covid had changed that. Colchester was a pilot and the results of the project have helped inform the Town Deal projects being undertaken.
Colchester Borough Council was also one of six north Essex authorities who joined together to use a proportion of the Government’s Discretionary Grants to offer small retailers six months’ free access to Click It Local platform enabling online purchasing from multiple outlets, home delivery, and training and support for participating retailers.
Statistics from the BID have shown that Christmas 2020 was a record-breaking year in terms of spend. Footfall was 80% of 2019’s figure, and the town has the lowest number of empty units in 30 months. In 2020 there were more town centre shop openings than closures.
The submission also highlighted the work of the council to continue to boost the local economy – showcasing the £175 million Northern Gateway project to turn the area into a leisure and residential destination, its digital strategy to deliver full fibre broadband, the £11.3 million project to revamp the Mercury Theatre, and the £19.2 million secured for a range of projects through the Town Deal.
Councillor, Darius Laws, Portfolio Holder for Economy, Business & Heritage, said: “Colchester has a proud history of supporting local businesses take root and flourish, not only generating jobs for local people but boosting our local economy.
“This is something we are committed to continuing and I am delighted that the hard work of the council, our staff and our partners has been recognised in this way. This, together with the evidence on the ground shows there is a real confidence in our economy as we emerge from Covid-19 and that Colchester is looking forward not back.”
Adrian Pritchard, Chief Executive of Colchester Borough Council, said: “It is always an honour for the efforts of our staff working with others across the borough to be recognised in this way.
“These awards are one of the biggest and most prestigious for local government and I am very proud that Colchester Borough Council has once again been shortlisted in them.”
The award ceremony scheduled to be held on Thursday 4 November at Grosvenor House, London. More information on this years’ awards can be found here Home | LGC Awards 2021 (lgcplus.com)
Last year the council was named ‘Entrepreneurial Council of the Year’ at the LGC Awards 2020 in recognition for the innovation, ambition and achievement it and its wholly owned group of commercial companies - Colchester Amphora Trading Ltd (CATL), Colchester Amphora Energy Ltd (CAEL) and Colchester Amphora Homes Ltd (CAHL) – had shown.
It also scooped the ‘Best Commercial Council’ at the annual Municipal Journal (MJ) Achievement Awards last year again in recognition of its work with its commercial trading companies.
Page last reviewed: 29 July 2021